Every Monday my fellow prep “experts” Aaron Lommers and Aaron Swaney and I gather around a voice recorder and argue about high school basketball. It’s a lot of fun, which I hope shines through in the actual podcast, despite the fact that Lommers and I spend a great deal of time criticizing each other’s choices in rankings, haircuts and wardrobe decisions.
One of the biggest debates we have — and there are many — is if the 1B Cedar Park Christian-Mountlake Terrace Lions, currently ranked No. 10 in our poll, could defeat one of the teams ranked below them. Or even an unranked 1A, 2A, 3A or 4A team.
Turns out CPC has thought about this a bit too.
“I just tell the guys, we’ve never played a 4A school. We’ve only played their JVs,” said Pat Russell, the Lions’ head coach. “Could we compete with some of those 4A schools? I’d say yes. But we have 40 high school boys to choose from. They have 400. It’s quite a difference.”
But could CPC take on a 4A varsity team having a down year? The Lions sound like they want to try.
“We play with other kids from bigger schools to see what their competition is like,” said junior Eric Matson. “I played with them too (in recreational leagues).”
There’s one school in particular Matson would like to take on.
“I’d love to play Cascade, personally,” he said. “I know some guys on the team.”
Russell said the big difference between 1B and higher classifications is size, and he’s not just talking about the size of the schools.
“Our tallest guy is (6-foot-1) or 6-2. At the bigger schools that’s the average,” Russell said. “I think the size plays a big role.”
Another problem is scheduling games against higher-up schools. Russell said that many of their schedules are already figured out ahead of time, and it’s hard to squeeze the Lions in. Plus, he admitted, there isn’t a lot to gain from a big school playing a small school.
“Schools don’t want to play (smaller teams). They don’t want to lose,” Russell said. “I would love to, to see where we’re at. But I don’t see that happening.”
Senior point guard Micah Peterson thought about what it might be like to play at a bigger school, but is happy to have his final year be at Cedar Park Christian.
“I like the basketball system,” Peterson said. “I’ve thought about what it’d be like to play at bigger schools, but I’ve been looking forward to my senior year here. I’m happy with how it went down.”
Added Matson: “I love this school. It’s awesome.”
A lot of the CPC players have been playing together in Cedar Park Christian feeder schools in Everett and Lynnwood. The added time together creates a strong bond and great team chemistry by the time players arrive in high school.
“It’s been six or seven years,” said senior co-captain and Lions’ leading scorer, Terry Eun. “We know each other really well. Everyone (at CPC) knows you. It’s not like big schools, where no one knows who you are.”
“It’s nice having that continue to senior year with that (team chemistry),” said Daniel Schettler, a senior co-captain.
The Lions have begun to warrant this improbable question. They are off to a great start this season, with an undefeated 15-0 record that included four games in California at a holiday tournament. Cedar Park Christian faces a tough La Conner team tonight — ranked No. 4 in 2B in the Associated Press poll and No. 15 in the area in The Herald’s most recent power poll.
“They’re big. They’re the perennial 2B powerhouse in our league,” Russell said. “They go to state almost every year. They place in the top 6 almost every year. ? Friday night will be a great litmus test.”
Even if they don’t get that game scheduled, Russell and the Lions will be happy with a strong showing in the 1B state tournament. Cedar Park Christian-Mountlake Terrace will continue to operate under Russell’s philosophy: “Think big, even though we’re small.”
And Aaron Swaney, Aaron Lommers and myself will continue to argue over who would beat who in that hypothetical showdown.